Wag the Dog

14 September 2012, 17:20

The work schedule for the first week of the last session of the Verkhovna Rada more reminiscent of a meeting demanding the efficient “approval” of decisions that have been prepared in advance and the equally rapid closing of the VR. On 4 September, it worked of 18 minutes, rested on the 5th and after the approval of a series of legislative decisions on 6 September, was closed once more for almost two weeks – until 18 September.

Representatives of the party in power did not disguise the fact that they are afraid of parliament being used as a platform for the disclosure of information about the actual state of affairs in the country. On 4 September, in response to the minority’s recall of draft laws, Volodymyr Oliynyk from the Party of Regions threatened it with the forfeit of its right to use the rostrum on Wednesday – Opposition Day. His arguments reflected his ignorance of the essence of the parliamentary system: “…some of you may possibly want to use the rostrum not to introduce draft laws, but to talk,” – said Mr. Oliynyk resentfully – “but in my view, the opposition has lost this one, because our task is a legislative one, and when the opposition says that the government doesn’t listen to it or support it, then it’s necessary to appeal to the people, in other words, go out and talk about draft laws …” Under conditions of a total cleanup of the information space and the complication of the opposition’s access to voters by means of other channels, at this time, the party in power is clearly more afraid of this very propaganda-informational function of parliament than anything else.

In general, a progressive fear of openness and transparency is being seen on the part of government representatives, which is exceeding the limits of what is reasonable. If previously the necessity to respond to inconvenient questions caused only the president to panic, then last week, it became clear that the problem has also spread to other representatives of the regime. More specifically, a vivid example of this was the cancellation of Government Day in parliament, which is traditionally designated for Friday. On 6 September, on behalf of Our Ukraine-Peoples’ Self Defense Bloc and BYuT, Arseniy Yatseniuk requested a report on the state of affairs in Ukraine from Mykola Azarov. Alarmed about an “official crime” – the disclosure by government officials of information of a phrase uttered by him at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers: “things are not going badly, but very badly”, – Azarov decided not to tempt fate. And in view of the fact that he would have to explain what he was talking about live on Rada TV Channel and state radio, he avoided answering inconvenient questions by cancelling Government Day.

Paraphrasing the above-mentioned Volodymyr Oliynyk, the Party of Regions uses the Verkhovna Rada as its personal tool. Among the most resonant decisions – the approval of three draft laws, which are allegedly supposed to stimulate investment activity in priority branches of industry, but in fact revive special economic zones, which in 2000-2005 were already a tool for the evasion of taxes by the enterprises of chosen people. The law on changes to land legislation was no less demonstrative, with its propagation and procedural violation. At nearly 10 p.m. (!) the voting cards of 242 pro-government MPs voted once more in favour of law No. 10034 On the Introduction of Changes to Some Legislative Acts of Ukraine Regarding the Separation of State and Communal-Owned Lands. Among other things, this law deprives local self-government bodies of the right to manage land plots designated for farming, which will now be concentrated in the State Agency of Land Resources of Ukraine. As anticipated by several experts, land plots can now be sold to the oligarchs in the inner circle of the government.

Presumably, at least until the election, the work of the Ukrainian parliament will be restricted to voting on order for “necessary” decisions, which will alternate with periods of the switching off of the “talking shop” for long periods, so that opposition MPs are not addressing: “issues that don’t pertain to them” and don’t violate the sterility of the information space, which is completely controlled by the government either directly, or through the oligarchs dependent on it.

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